Lazy Caturday Reads: A Bit of News and Some Fascinating Long Reads

The cat’s lunch, Pierre Bonnard, circa 1906

Good Afternoon!!

I’m sick to death of politics right now, but I don’t want to completely ignore it either. So today I’ll begin with a few of today’s news stories and then I’m going to recommend some interesting long reads that I’ve enjoyed this week.

Harry Litman at The Washington Post: Release the Mueller team’s summaries. Now.

In the (so far) quiet war of words between the Barr and Mueller camps, we have learned that the special counsel’s report was prepared with summaries of each section that were designed purposely for quick delivery to Congress. These summaries have been scrubbed of all or nearly all controversial material and, therefore, consist of Mueller’s analyses and conclusions without disclosing the supporting, potentially confidential, evidentiary material.

‘Company’ by English painter & illustrator Ophelia Redpath (b.1965)

The summaries should be released to the Congress and the public. While some at the Justice Department assert that the materials are marked as containing grand jury material, we know from Mueller’s team that they were prepared for the purpose of quick release. It, therefore, stands to reason that any problematic material they contain could be removed in short order. They are core explanations of Mueller’s work, which the public has been hungry to learn about — and which Mueller intended the public to have.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the Judiciary Committee chairman, should set to the side for one day the maneuverings over grand jury material and other redactions. The Justice Department should similarly reserve its prerogative to fight over these materials in court. For today, all parties should agree immediately to produce the summaries of Mueller’s work that would greatly illuminate the currently obscured special counsel’s report.

Marcy Wheeler at The Washington Post: We already knew Barr’s summary was too easy on Trump. Public records prove it.

When Attorney General William P. Barr released a four-page memo two weeks ago opining that “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” we already knew enough to be sure that Barr was spinning the contents of the report his memo claimed to summarize, as multiple reports now say he did.

Girl with Cat, by Lotte Laserstein, 1898-1993, was a German-Swedish painter and portraitist

That’s because there was already public evidence at the time that undermined Barr’s conclusions. Barr’s letter may have been accurate, technically speaking. But based on what it omitted about two key associates of President Trump — his longtime adviser Roger Stone and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort — it was obvious that the attorney general had left whole areas of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings out of the summary. That Mueller’s team thinks Barr made the investigation’s findings look less damaging to Trump should not come as a surprise.

For example, the indictment of Roger Stone, who isn’t mentioned in Barr’s “summary.”

When Attorney General William P. Barr released a four-page memo two weeks ago opining that “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” we already knew enough to be sure that Barr was spinning the contents of the report his memo claimed to summarize, as multiple reports now say he did.

That’s because there was already public evidence at the time that undermined Barr’s conclusions. Barr’s letter may have been accurate, technically speaking. But based on what it omitted about two key associates of President Trump — his longtime adviser Roger Stone and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort — it was obvious that the attorney general had left whole areas of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings out of the summary. That Mueller’s team thinks Barr made the investigation’s findings look less damaging to Trump should not come as a surprise.

Read more examples at the WaPo.

Think Progress: Lawsuit alleges utterly flabbergasting sexism at law firm closely associated with Donald Trump.

By Suzanne Valadon (French, 1865-1938) Jeune Fille au Chat

A $200 million lawsuit filed against a law firm closely associated with President Donald Trump alleges that the firm fostered a “fraternity culture” featuring heavy drinking, an overbearing male leader, and sexism that was often so absurd it reads like something out of a gross-out comedy from the 1980s.

The suit against Jones Day, a 2,500 lawyer firm that played a significant role in placing Trump in the White House — the Trump campaign paid Jones Day $3.3 million in legal fees according to a 2017 report — alleges a culture where women attorneys were denied promotions despite exemplary work, excluded from mentoring opportunities afforded to male associates, asked to leave the firm after taking maternity leave, and subjected to cruel and sexist jokes by male colleagues.

Trump appointed numerous Jones Day lawyers to high-level positions within his administration, including Solicitor General Noel Francisco, former White House Counsel Don McGahn, and the two highest ranking attorneys in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Trump also appointed two former Jones Day partners to federal appellate judgeships.

At one event hosted by a Jones Day partner, the complaint alleges that a male summer associate (“summer associate” is the title typically given to highly paid law students who work at a firm during their summer vacation) pushed a female colleague into the partner’s swimming pool while the woman was wearing a white dress. According to the complaint, “the male summer associate who pushed her was applauded and high-fived by the Firm’s summer associate committee and leadership rather than reprimanded.”

In another incident, a partner allegedly “demanded that three female summer associates sing and dance to a Care Bears song (an event captured on video).” These three summer associates were allegedly told that they must humiliate themselves in this way “to receive verbal offers to join the Firm as associates.”

During a limo ride to a firm event, male Jones Day lawyers allegedly played a game called “Fuck, Marry, Kill,” in which they “named coworkers from the office and proposed to whom they would do each of these things.” At the event itself, a male associate allegedly “called several of his female colleagues ‘cunts,’” yet the lawsuit claims that he remains employed by the firm.

More disgusting allegations at the link.

Now for those longer reads:

This one is political. The New York Times, April 3: Attacks by White Extremists Are Growing. So Are Their Connections.

Léonard Tsugouharu Foujita (aka 藤田 嗣治, Fujita Tsuguharu) 1950s Self Portrait

In a manifesto posted online before his attack, the gunman who killed 50 last month in a rampage at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, said he drew inspiration from white extremist terrorism attacks in Norway, the United States, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

His references to those attacks placed him in an informal global network of white extremists whose violent attacks are occurring with greater frequency in the West.

An analysis by The New York Times of recent terrorism attacks found that at least a third of white extremist killers since 2011 were inspired by others who perpetrated similar attacks, professed a reverence for them or showed an interest in their tactics.

The connections between the killers span continents and highlight how the internet and social media have facilitated the spread of white extremist ideology and violence.

In one instance, a school shooter in New Mexico corresponded with a gunman who attacked a mall in Munich. Altogether, they killed 11 people.

Please go read the whole thing. I think this is an important story. How are these white supremacist networks any different from the on-line “radicalization” of Islamic terrorists? The interest has made it much easier for crazy people to find and communicate with others like them.

The New Yorker: The Day the Dinosaurs Died, by Douglas Preston

I loved this article! I can’t possibly do it justice with a few excerpts. It’s about a paleontology grad student, Robert De Palma, and his discovery of a rich fossil bed in North Dakota that may shed light on the rapid extinction of dinosaurs. Here’s a taste:

By Zviad Gogolauri

On August 5, 2013, I received an e-mail from a graduate student named Robert DePalma. I had never met DePalma, but we had corresponded on paleontological matters for years, ever since he had read a novel I’d written that centered on the discovery of a fossilized Tyrannosaurus rex killed by the KT impact. “I have made an incredible and unprecedented discovery,” he wrote me, from a truck stop in Bowman, North Dakota. “It is extremely confidential and only three others know of it at the moment, all of them close colleagues.” He went on, “It is far more unique and far rarer than any simple dinosaur discovery. I would prefer not outlining the details via e-mail, if possible.” He gave me his cell-phone number and a time to call.

I called, and he told me that he had discovered a site like the one I’d imagined in my novel, which contained, among other things, direct victims of the catastrophe. At first, I was skeptical. DePalma was a scientific nobody, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kansas, and he said that he had found the site with no institutional backing and no collaborators. I thought that he was likely exaggerating, or that he might even be crazy. (Paleontology has more than its share of unusual people.) But I was intrigued enough to get on a plane to North Dakota to see for myself.

DePalma’s find was in the Hell Creek geological formation, which outcrops in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, and contains some of the most storied dinosaur beds in the world. At the time of the impact, the Hell Creek landscape consisted of steamy, subtropical lowlands and floodplains along the shores of an inland sea. The land teemed with life and the conditions were excellent for fossilization, with seasonal floods and meandering rivers that rapidly buried dead animals and plants.

Ludwig Kohrl (1858-1927)

The Hell Creek Formation spanned the Cretaceous and the Paleogene periods, and paleontologists had known for at least half a century that an extinction had occurred then, because dinosaurs were found below, but never above, the KT layer. This was true not only in Hell Creek but all over the world. For many years, scientists believed that the KT extinction was no great mystery: over millions of years, volcanism, climate change, and other events gradually killed off many forms of life. But, in the late nineteen-seventies, a young geologist named Walter Alvarez and his father, Luis Alvarez, a nuclear physicist, discovered that the KT layer was laced with unusually high amounts of the rare metal iridium, which, they hypothesized, was from the dusty remains of an asteroid impact. In an article in Science, published in 1980, they proposed that this impact was so large that it triggered the mass extinction, and that the KT layer was the debris from that event. Most paleontologists rejected the idea that a sudden, random encounter with space junk had drastically altered the evolution of life on Earth. But as the years passed the evidence mounted, until, in a 1991 paper, the smoking gun was announced: the discovery of an impact crater buried under thousands of feet of sediment in the Yucatán peninsula, of exactly the right age, and of the right size and geochemistry, to have caused a worldwide cataclysm. The crater and the asteroid were named Chicxulub, after a small Mayan town near the epicenter.

De Palma was fascinated by bones even as a child, and he has been finding fossils for his entire life. If you have any interest in prehistory and dinosaurs, please read this article. You won’t be sorry.

The Washington Post, April 3: The last survivor of a slave ship has been identified, and her story is remarkable.

by Suzan Visser

She was captured at about the age of 12 in West Africa and forced aboard the Clotilda, the last slave vessel to arrive in the United States in 1860.

Now researchers have identified Redoshi as the last known African-born survivor of the transatlantic slave trade when she died in 1937, according to a statement released Tuesday by Newcastle University in Great Britain. Renamed Sally Smith in Alabama, she may have been 110 years old at the time of her death.

Until now, researchers believed the last survivor of the transatlantic slave trade was Oluale Kossola, also known as Cudjo Lewis. But, according to research by Hannah Durkin, a lecturer at Newcastle University, Redoshi lived two years longer than Cudjo, who died in 1935.

Durkin said she first saw a reference to Redoshi in the writings of Zora Neale Hurston and began researching her life story from other writings.

In 2018, HarperCollins published Hurston’s manuscript, “Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo,’” 90 years after she wrote it. “Barracoon” detailed the life of Kossola, or Cudjo Lewis, who was just a teenager when he was captured in what is now Benin. Kossola and more than 100 Africans were forced to board the Clotilda in 1860, even though the United States had banned the importation of enslaved people in 1808.

Read the rest at the link.

One more from NBC News: Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski might have been a woman or intersex.

Casimir Pulaski, hero of the Revolutionary War and the pride of the Polish-American community, may need a new pronoun — he may have been a she, or even a they.

By Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938)

Researchers who used DNA to identify Pulaski’s bones are convinced the gallant Pole who died fighting for America’s freedom was either a biological woman who lived as a man, or potentially was intersex, meaning a person whose body doesn’t fit the standard definitions of male or female.

That’s the eye-opening takeaway from a new Smithsonian Channel documentary titled “The General Was Female?,” which premieres Monday and is part of the “America’s Hidden Stories” series.

“One of the ways that male and female skeletons are different is the pelvis,” Virginia Hutton Estabrook, an assistant professor of anthropology at Georgia Southern University, told NBC News. “In females, the pelvic cavity has a more oval shape. It’s less heart-shaped than in the male pelvis. Pulaski’s looked very female.”

While the Pulaski skeleton showed tell-tale signs of extensive horseback riding and a battle wound on the right hand that the general is known to have suffered, the facial structure and jaw angle were decidedly female, Estabrook said.

Read the rest at NBC News.

I hope you’ll find something here that appeals to you. Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!


A Thursday Afternoon Link Dump…

Good evening, y’all!

It’s a new season, by that I mean basketball. So tonight I am off to watch my daughter cheer for her b-ball team here in Banjoville.

Tonight’s reads have a mixture of stories for you, and I hope that you find them interesting.

I’ve got a couple of stories on dinosaurs, one real and one metaphorical…I start the post with one…and finish with one, you know how I have to have some sort of method to my madness.

On that dinosaur they call the GOP, this op/ed from Alex Jakubowski at the Daily Caller caught my eye, of all the shit spewing from the mouths of the right, this was the one voice that had any sort of genuine reason and thought. Give it a read in full, and then take a peek at the comments…of course it will never reach through those right-wing nut’s thick skulls, but it is nice to think so…anyway, here it is: My father’s party

We lost. We lost in 2008. We lost in 2012. We can say we won in 2010, but why bother? What gains did we achieve? How did we really help everyday Americans by replacing the Democratic-controlled House with a Republican one? The answer: We didn’t. We didn’t pass a single piece of important legislation and we did nothing to improve the quality of life for the American people.

[…]

I have been a Republican for as long as I can remember. As far back as fourth grade I remember listening to my father talk about capitalism, individualism, and the pursuit of the dream that makes America different from every other place on Earth. Though I didn’t quite understand why at the time, my father instilled these ideas in me in order to teach me why I should always be proud of my country, the only country willing to take my family in after the terrible atrocities we faced in the Holocaust. My father has always been a Republican, and in many ways I inherited my beliefs from him.

But the party my father raised me in was never a party of absolutes: our party was one of progress, one of thought, and most of all one that believed that compromise was a trait to be honored, not despised. My father’s party, and the one I have claimed to be a part of for years, was never ashamed to work with others to do what was right, and what would move the American people forward.

Every day I have conversations with liberal friends who have vastly different beliefs than I do about the ideal way to solve the problems our great country faces. We talk about welfare and government dependence; we talk about taxes and shared sacrifice; we talk about immigration and national security; yet never once has any of my countless conversations with friends resulted in anything but an honest, open conversation about ways we can put aside our ideological differences to find a middle ground — one on which we can move forward for the benefit of all.

But in the end we always realize that our grand conversations, our amazing ideas of compromise and political altruism are all for naught. With both parties as they are now, none of our grand ideas have any chance of becoming a political reality. In a world where simply working with the other side is seen as a political liability, how can we hope to move forward as a generation?

He talks about the need for moderation, understanding and compromise…which is far from the rest of the articles and commentary out there after Romney lost the election.
As a life-long Republican, and after enduring two straight embarrassing losses, I can no longer sit by and wait for things to change. The party in which I was raised did not dictate to others how they must set policies on immigration, marriage, and abortion; the party in which I was raised thought sensibly about how to work with the other side and compromise, achieving at least in part the goals of all for the sake of the nation. As a dear friend and fellow moderate Republican recently said in an argument I have become far too familiar with, “Disagreement is not a threat to your own views.” In fact, disagreement is what can propel us forward, what can drive us to discover what policies can truly change our society for the better.

If our party is to truly change, as it is now clear it must, our focus needs to change as well. No longer can we count on a conservative, Evangelical base to provide the necessary votes to sweep a candidate into office. The party must abandon its hardline positions on abortion, immigration, gay marriage, and many other issues — many of which alienate those who are supposed to make up the future of our movement. Perhaps none said it better than moderate Republican Representative Cory Gardner of Colorado: “After tonight, the GOP had better figure out that a big tent sounds good but if there aren’t any seats in it, what good is it?” We must learn to embrace the fact that no matter our disagreements, those on the other side of any issue are not our opponents — they are our friends. No matter the difference, no matter the issue, we can and have to work together.

The United States has always moved forward on the premise that we can do better; I know now that we can, and I hope that together, we will.

Hey, that kind of talk will get you run out on a rail in the Fox News world, but I do think the possibilities of a “better tomorrow, tomorrow” are a reasonable hope some of us can have. Even if it is only a pipe dream.

More on the dinosaur party and it’s fanatics:

It’s Rove’s Fault! Bush’s Brain Is in the GOP Crosshairs

Why Does the GOP Keep Generating Extremists?

Jon Stewart: There Was an Avalanche on Fox News’ Bullsh*# Mountain on Election Night

The last days of Romneyland

Dumb Money, Mission Accomplished

California to reform a law on Tuesday, one I think is very good. California Voters Scrap Draconian “Three Strikes” Law

After nearly 20 years and over $20 billion spent, California voters have voted overwhelmingly to reform our state’s draconian “three strikes” law. The statewide ballot measure,  Proposition 36 , delivered a two-to-one mandate (68.6%-31.4%) to close a controversial loophole in the law so that life sentences can only be imposed when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent.”

Three strikes laws, often known as habitual offender laws, grew out of the “tough on crime” era of the 1980s and 90s. Between 1993 and 1995, 24 states passed some kind of three strikes law, but California’s 1994 three strikes ballot measure was especially harsh.

While the 1994  law required the first and second strike to be either violent or serious, any infraction could trigger a third strike and the life sentence that went with it. Therefore, petty offenses – such as stealing a piece of pizza – have led to life imprisonment for thousands of people.

Read more at the link, the best thing is that people who have been given life for petty crimes are able to request a lesser sentence, that is very fair in my opinion and in the end will help with prison overcrowding. So this should be good for many all around.

Many New York hospitals are still without power: New York’s Ongoing Blackout: Hospitals in Lower Manhattan

And there is new documents released in connection with HARP: Read the Documents Treasury Has Been Keeping Secret

This next post from the Grio made me smile…Sasha Obama’s Election Night advice to president caught on tape: ‘Behind you!’

President Barack Obama walks on stage with daughter Sasha to deliver his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)President Barack Obama walks on stage with daughter Sasha to deliver his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It was a quick but instantly memorable moment on Election Night.

When President Barack Obama and the first family greeted an enormous crowd of supporters after being re-elected, his 11-year-old daughter Sasha got his famous enlarged ear and said “Behind you!”

The president quickly turned and acknowledged a big group of supporters he had previously ignored and waved to them, eliciting big cheers.

On a historical note, check out this abstract from Medieval.net: Of Kings and Popes and Law

Abstract: During the latter half of the 11th century through to the end of the 13th century, Europe was experiencing what is considered by some historians as “the” medieval renaissance, otherwise referred to as the European Renaissance of the Twelfth Century. The time appears to have been ripe for an explosion of cultural and intellectual advancement and change. Two fields that experienced significant development during that period were law and governance, both secular and ecclesiastical.

In England, the period which most legal historians consider to be the key formative years of the common law was the reign of King Henry II. Indeed, Sir William Holdsworth credits Henry II for “substituting one common law for that confused mass of local customs of which the law of England had formerly consisted”. But as R.H. Helmholz said, “legal history, like any other, is a history of winners, and the history of the losing side is often overlooked. That we only hint of the history of the canon law by reference to the common law is a fact of life and not to be lamented”. However, he admonishes us not to ignore the intrinsic importance of the jurisdiction once exercised by the courts of the Church in the development of the law of England.

I take up Helmholz’ challenge in this thesis and examine the relationship that developed between the English royal authorities and the Latin (Western) Christian Church from the beginning of the reign of Edward the Confessor to the end of the reign of King John. Through a review of cases reported by the Selden Society from the royal courts of Henry II, Richard I and John, I then focus my research on the 62 year period between the beginning of the reign of Henry II and the death of John, and consider the influence of the Church and State relationship on the structure and processes of the developing English royal law and its scope.

Click here to read this thesis from the University of Victoria

Henry Plantagenet has always fascinated me…maybe it was my interest in his wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine that caused me to admire Henry, but there it is.

And finally, that other dinosaur: New Dinosaur Xenoceratops Discovered In Canada

Everybody, meet Xenoceratops foremostensis, a brand new species of ceratopsid, or horned dinosaur, discovered in the plentiful fossil beds of Canada. Weighing in at 2 tons and about 20 feet long, Xenoceratops — meaning “alien-horned face” — lived about 80 million years ago, making it one of the oldest big-bodied horned dinosaurs known to paleontologists.

Though it has only recently been identified as a separate species, xenoceratops was identified from fossils discovered in 1958, only to be misidentified for several decades before taking its rightful place as a separate species.

Well, that is all I have time for, catch ya later in the comments!

This is an open thread.


Thursday Reads: Happy Animals, Dickish Theocrats, Jurassic Fleas, and ET’s

Good Morning!!

I thought I’d start out with something upbeat. How about some photos of happy animals? Buzzfeed has 26 of them. Here are some of my favorities:

How can you not smile at those? Check out the rest at Buzzfeed, and don’t miss the joyful anteater!

Now let’s get to the news. I thought Michigan was a winner-take-all state, but I guess not. The Santorum campaign claims the result was really a tie, because Willard and Rick the Dick will each get 15 delegates from Michigan.

While there has been no final determination of who won how many delegates in Michigan on Tuesday, current results suggest both candidates won seven of the state’s 14 congressional districts, each of which award two delegates to the winner. In addition, Santorum adviser John Brabender said the state’s two at-large delegates are likely to be split between Romney and Santorum because the vote was so close.

So I guess it’s winner-take-all by district? I don’t understand the GOP delegate system at all.

“It’s highly likely this is is going to end up being a tie, based on the data that we have,” Brabender said. “I don’t know how you look at that as anything besides this being a strong showing for Rick Santorum and anything short of a disaster for Mitt Romney.

“If we can do this well in Romney’s home state, this bodes well for Super Tuesday.”

Romney won the popular vote in the state by about 3 percentage points, according to the latest tally.

The final delegate totals haven’t been determined yet, according to the WaPo article.

According to numbers whiz Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics, Odds of a Brokered Convention Are Increasing

We’re finally close enough to Super Tuesday to get a sense of how the overall delegate count might work out in the GOP primary. The end result: Assuming that none of the four candidates drops out of the race, it looks increasingly as if no one will be able to claim a majority of the delegates. The candidate with the best chance is Mitt Romney, but he probably wouldn’t be able to wrap up the nomination until May or even June. The other candidates will probably have to hope for a brokered convention.

Trende lays out the Super Tuesday math state by state. Check it out at the above link. Can you believe Super Tuesday is less than a week away? I can’t decide if I should vote on the Dem or Repub ballot. I guess I’ll decide at the last minute. I don’t think Elizabeth Warren has any real competition, but I’ll need to find out for sure.

Ed Kilgore had an interesting post yesterday at Political Animal. Rick Santorum lost the Catholic vote to Romney in Michigan 44-37. I guess Rick has the Bishops but not the rank and file Catholics who like to plan their families. Kilgore:

Immediately there was speculation that Rick’s visceral dissing of JFK’s church-state relations speech might have contributed significantly to this result, or had perhaps cost him Michigan altogether.

That was my initial reaction, too, until I started wondering: why did we all assume Santorum had an advantage among Catholics in the first place? …. as I and others have amply documented, the idea that Catholics are more conservative than Americans generally, even on “social issues,” is pretty much a myth. But you had to figure that the kind of Catholics who choose to vote in Republican primaries are pretty significantly correlated with “traditionalists” like Rick, right?

That’s actually not so clear at all. The last contest with exit polling by the networks was Florida. There Santorum won 13% of the overall vote, but just 10% of Catholics; Mitt Romney ran a bit better among Catholics than he did overall. Now maybe you could say Florida’s heavily Latino Catholic vote is atypical. What about South Carolina? There Santorum won 17% of the overall vote, but just 15% of Catholics. Again, Romney performed a bit better among Catholics than among voters generally.

It doesn’t really surprise me. I wonder why Kilgore didn’t break down the gender numbers? I’ll bet Catholic women didn’t care for Santorum’s act.

The New Civil Rights Movement blog has more interesting details on which population groups voted for Rick the Dick and which ones preferred Willard.

Speaking of dickish theocrats, Darrell Issa may have topped Rick the Dick Tuesday at the latest War on Women hearing in the House. From the estimable Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches:

One of the strangest moments at yesterday’s very strange hearing on whether a regulation duly promulgated under a law passed by Congress was “executive overreach” and an infringement of religious freedom was when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Not Catholic) asked to have the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae entered into the Congressional Record.

His point, obviously, upon questioning the now-ubiquitous Bishop William Lori of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was to show the authoritative (or rather, authoritarian) roots of the Catholic opposition to “artificialqui” contraception.

There it is now, part of the Congressional Record! A document few Catholics follow, and which provoked dissent from (believe it or not) American bishops when Pope Paul VI issued it in 1968.

I’m really starting to tire of bishops testifying before Congressional hearings and now we have quotes from Papal Encyclicals in the Congressional Record?! WTF?

Via Think Progress, disgusting misogynist pig Rush Limbaugh opened his bit yap yesterday and

called Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown student whom House Republicans wouldn’t let testify at a contraception hearing last week, a “slut” and a “prostitute” today, because, Limbaugh argued, she’s having “so much sex” she needs other people to pay for it:

LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.

You can hear the clip at Media Matters if you are so inclined. I decided not to listen.

Also at Think Progress, check out Alyssa Rosenberg’s Pop Culture Guide to the War on Women.

In science news, an article in Nature reveals that Dinosaurs had giant fleas–about an inch long!

Female (left) and male fleas from the Jurrassic Period

Primitive fleas were built to sup on dinosaur blood in the Jurassic period, more than 150 million years ago. The potential host–parasite relationship has been uncovered thanks to a set of beautifully preserved fossils found in China.

Today, the varied group of parasitic insects known as fleas frequently infests mammals, birds and thankfully we have products like Comforits amazon to remedy those woes. But little is known about their origins. The flea fossil record consists mainly of modern-looking species from the past 65 million years, and the identity of possible fleas from the Cretaceous period (145 million to 65 million years ago) has been debated by experts. But Michael Engel, a palaeoentomologist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and his colleagues have now extended the history of the parasites by at least 60 million years. Their work is published online today in Nature1.

Engel and his co-authors studied nine flea specimens from two sites: the 165-million-year-old Jurassic deposits in Daohugou and the 125-million-year-old Cretaceous strata at Huangbanjigou, both in China. The insects were not quite like fleas as we now know them. Whereas modern fleas range from 1 to 10 millimetres in length, the Jurassic and Cretaceous species were between 8 and 21 millimetres. “These were hefty insects as far as fleas are concerned,” says Engel.

If you’re more interested in futuristic science, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is going “live on the web.”

Announced at a technology conference in Los Angeles, the site Setilive.org will stream radio frequencies that are transmitted from the Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Allen Telescope Array in Northern California.

Participants in the project, being run by Jillian Tarter of the Seti Institute’s Center for Seti Research, will be asked to search for signs of unusual activity in the hope the human brain can find things automated systems might miss.

“There are frequencies that our automated signal detection systems now ignore, because there are too many signals there,” Tartar told BBC News.

I think just about anyone can volunteer to help sort out unusual frequencies from radio and TV signals.

Finally, Davy Jones of the artificially created ’60s group The Monkees died yesterday of a heart attack at 66. From TMZ:

An official from the medical examiner’s office for Martin County, Florida confirmed with TMZ they received a call from Martin Memorial Hospital informing them that Jones had passed away.

We’re told Davy suffered the heart attack at a ranch near his Florida home, where he was visiting his horses. Davy began experiencing distress while he was sitting in his car, and that’s where a ranch hand found him.

The ranch hand told Sheriff’s detectives … the singer began to complain that he was not feeling well and was having trouble breathing. Paramedics were called and Jones was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. Authorities say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

Here’s one of the group’s classic bubblegum hits. RIP Davy Jones.

That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?